Buying a new .223

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Buying a new .223

Post by Kurnal » 26 Apr 2021, 8:58 am

Spent all weekend reading this forum and watching various reviews.

This is my first rifle for 35 years since growing up on a farm, where we had .22's, 22-250, shotguns and a few others.

Gun will be initially be used for 60% hunting, 40% range for practice and fun.

Of the hunting 80% will be foxes, rabbits and 20% possibly small deer. I wouldn't envisage taking anything too long range. Wont be trekking for days at a time. One day hunts mainly. Will buy another larger gun if our hunting dictates we need it.

Decided on a .223 and will order in the next few days. Not looking at anything too budget, if spending a bit more gets you a better product, happy to do so. Current shortlist and some comments. Happy to spend around $2,000 +/- on the rifle and scope.

Will get my hands on some of these for look and feel at the LGS prior to final selection.

Lithgow LA102 - quite heavy compared to others, Aussie made
Howa 1500 - look good value, but possibly not same quality as some others. Not sure of the three variants - ultralight, sporter, varmint ?
Ruger American - seems cheap, as above
Tikka T3 Lite stainless - I like the look and price point of this one.
Sauer S100 Ceratech - not as many reviews, looks nice though
Happy to consider others ?

I have a few very beginner questions (please forgive my terminology, as I may have some of this wrong):
- Given above usage, is it useful to get a gun capable of larger ammunition ie 1/8 v 1/12 twist.
- Does barrel length affect much ?
- I am having trouble coming up with much scope information. Any recommendations? Do you get a big increase in quality with increase in price.
- No idea on what scope magnification to get ?
- Do you normally test your own gun with various ammunitions for accuracy when you first get it, then stick with the same ammo ? The reviews show large discrepancies between ammo's in different guns.

That's about it for now.

Sorry for long post.

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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by disco stu » 27 Apr 2021, 12:33 pm

Seeing no one else has commented I'll say what I can. I'm only a few years ahead of you, so....

I bought a Howa myself in 308. Came recommended from a fair few friends as good value for money. Barrel weight goes up between ultra light, sporter and varmint. I got sporter for a hunting rifle, and seeing your hunting you wouldn't want to go varmint. I've read people say they're heavy, but I don't find it to bad. Not sure of you would want to go down to ultralight

As far as optics goes, I would much prefer to put the bigger money on binos and go with a mid range scope, or possibly lower. The harder part is finding the animals, and once you've done that you can see the target fine even with crappy scope. That's my opinion at least, after spending lots of time looking through binoculars and barely any time through a scope.

I went with bushnell AR 308. Must have got it on special or they've upgraded the models, as I paid $160 odd and see they're now $300 range. Compared to a scope not much cheaper it's miles ahead in clarity, though it's really stiff when changing magnification. Hard in cold mountain temps with freezing fingers. Compared to $1000 scope though, I avoid looking through them too often as I start to get jealous

There are miles of options with scopes I found. Just gets bloody confusing. I think you would be wise to stick to something with adjustable reticle so it suits all the ranges you're intending to shoot, seeing your looking at close range through to long range. Magnification wise others will be able to comment more, but around 3-9 up to around a 4-14 max would cover it all on a hunting rifle. No need to get something with crazy high magnification, so don't let the numbers dazzle you.

Hopefully this helps. Others will hopefully correct any information I've got wrong and be able to offer much better info.

Good luck with search and your purchase
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by Blr243 » 27 Apr 2021, 1:16 pm

I have heavy barrelled howa in 22250 and 243. Way too heavy to carry in the field. Strictly shoot them from my quad or when waiting over a bait or water source .....triggers are ok and can be lightened up with a cheap gunbloke spring if u are comfortable with lighter triggers while hunting .....I have a synthetic sauer 100 with a sporter barrel in 243. Easyily carried anywhere , sub moa guaranteed , excellent adjustable trigger ...I love the three position safety on the sauer.... there is a long way between each setting. It’s incredibly easy to check and feel the safety location if dark or when slung over shoulder and can’t be seen easily ...I use the sauer with 100 per cent confidence...I know everything I point it at will just fall over Every time..... I hate the safety on my howas ....howas have a good reputation for strength and accuracy
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by in2anity » 27 Apr 2021, 1:24 pm

A 1:12" is optimal for a 55gr pill. If that's all you'll be shooting, go ahead. Otherwise the 1:8" is most flexible, easily facilitating up to a 80gr pill. Put it this way, the 1:8" is the "no-brainer" option that still runs the lighter stuff adequately.

The difference between a 20" and 24" is pretty negligible, outside of F-class or benchrest comp. You only really start to miss the velocity at 400m+. It just makes things slightly easier when the wind is moving about. Those small gains will be the difference between winning and losing during a slow-fire, fully supported, high-precision comp.

Sometimes I run a 22" scoped .223 off a bipod at 400m in a snaps match (4 second on/off exposures, random locations, 2moa inner) and it will still shoot a possible, IF the shooter is up to it. That's with the 69gr SMK. In that context, at 400m, I do not feel at all hindered by the 22" barrel. Yet at 800m with fishtailing/blustering conditions in an F match, single feeding 80gr high-bc pills - yeah, now that's a whole different story. You'll chase all the velocity you can scrape together. 26" is better.

When it comes to scope, people say you should spend as much on glass as you should on the rifle. A scope between $750-$1000 will be really great. Just don't go to crazy on the objective as high obj is really meant for low-light shooting.

IMO out of that list, the Tikka and the Lithgow are the picks. Sauers are good also, but I don't think the barrels are quite as good as aformentioned.
Last edited by in2anity on 27 Apr 2021, 3:12 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by bladeracer » 27 Apr 2021, 2:34 pm

Kurnal wrote:Spent all weekend reading this forum and watching various reviews.

This is my first rifle for 35 years since growing up on a farm, where we had .22's, 22-250, shotguns and a few others.

Gun will be initially be used for 60% hunting, 40% range for practice and fun.

Of the hunting 80% will be foxes, rabbits and 20% possibly small deer. I wouldn't envisage taking anything too long range. Wont be trekking for days at a time. One day hunts mainly. Will buy another larger gun if our hunting dictates we need it.

Decided on a .223 and will order in the next few days. Not looking at anything too budget, if spending a bit more gets you a better product, happy to do so. Current shortlist and some comments. Happy to spend around $2,000 +/- on the rifle and scope.

Will get my hands on some of these for look and feel at the LGS prior to final selection.

Lithgow LA102 - quite heavy compared to others, Aussie made
Howa 1500 - look good value, but possibly not same quality as some others. Not sure of the three variants - ultralight, sporter, varmint ?
Ruger American - seems cheap, as above
Tikka T3 Lite stainless - I like the look and price point of this one.
Sauer S100 Ceratech - not as many reviews, looks nice though
Happy to consider others ?

I have a few very beginner questions (please forgive my terminology, as I may have some of this wrong):
- Given above usage, is it useful to get a gun capable of larger ammunition ie 1/8 v 1/12 twist.
- Does barrel length affect much ?
- I am having trouble coming up with much scope information. Any recommendations? Do you get a big increase in quality with increase in price.
- No idea on what scope magnification to get ?
- Do you normally test your own gun with various ammunitions for accuracy when you first get it, then stick with the same ammo ? The reviews show large discrepancies between ammo's in different guns.

That's about it for now.

Sorry for long post.

Kurnal


If you intend to hunt deer, I'd go something larger. NSW recommends a minimum .243Win for small deer, .270Win for large deer, only a recommendation, but worth sticking to just in case you ever find yourself charged under the animal welfare act. In Victoria we don't have minimum cartridges, only bullet diameter and weight, but again they are .243" 80gn and .270" 130gn, but are law down here. Anybody hunting deer in NSW I think has to consider the possibility of coming down here sometime to hunt, you don't have to book, or do an R-Licence, or wear orange, or carry a GPS, etc. We just get a game licence for $66 per year and go deer hunting any time we feel the need. So it's worth looking at something that allows you that option in the future. My suggestion would be .308 if you're stuck with factory ammo, or 7mm-08 if you load your own. Of course, you could just borrow a suitable rifle for the job.

If you do decide on .223Rem to hunt larger species then yes, go 8"-twist so you can shoot 80gn bullets. Barrel length will affect carrying the rifle in difficult terrain above anything else. Shorter barrel is lighter and less likely to catch on foliage. But a light barrel may not be suitable for prolonged target shooting.

Magnification is going to be personal choice, but anything higher than about 4-power is going to make close/fast shots more difficult. A scope also adds significant weight and bulk to the rifle, you might find you prefer to hunt in heavier terrain without a scope. And as many modern rifles don't come with open sights, that will probably restrict you to a red-dot or reflex sight.

Yes, always test ammo to find what your rifle shoots best with.

I would strongly recommend also getting a .22LR just so you can do _lots_ of practice for little cost.
Last edited by bladeracer on 27 Apr 2021, 4:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by bladeracer » 27 Apr 2021, 2:38 pm

disco stu wrote:As far as optics goes, I would much prefer to put the bigger money on binos and go with a mid range scope, or possibly lower. The harder part is finding the animals, and once you've done that you can see the target fine even with crappy scope. That's my opinion at least, after spending lots of time looking through binoculars and barely any time through a scope.


Agreed, you'll spent infinitely more time looking through the binos than the scope.
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by G-Swiss » 27 Apr 2021, 3:37 pm

Hi mate,

I went with the Lithgow in .223 for similar purposes to yours except for the deer, and am very happy with the purchase. The action just felt right to me and is so smooth. Also, a big part of my decision was the ‘Made in Australia’ on the side. I think it’s important to support Aussie manufacturing capability, especially in this field.

It’s not the lightest but I can comfortably hike it for a day if need be. I did spend about the same on the scope as I did on the rifle, (Vortex Viper PST 2 - 3-15x44) and it works very well for my purposes. A bit outside your budget though. Can’t comment on other scopes as I have fairly limited experience.

Excellent accuracy with Outback 55gn Sierra blitzking, but that weight starts to falter out past 400m+.
Good luck and happy shopping
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by Kurnal » 27 Apr 2021, 3:42 pm

This is all so good and thanks to you all for taking the time to reply.

After your replies and reading up some more, I think I am leaning towards the Tikka t3x lite stainless in an 8" twist . After some reflection, to be honest range time is going to be simply sighting and practicing. I want this to be a purpose suitable hunting rifle foremost.

Point noted on the deer and caliber. If I get into it and want to chase deer specifically, then a larger gun can easily be added.

Scope is still a a research project. Probably lean on the LGS for their advice on this. And add bino's to the shopping list :)

Thanks again
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by disco stu » 27 Apr 2021, 4:06 pm

Yeah, definitely add bino's to the shopping list, plus a decent bino harness. I've got an S4 lockdown I bought years ago for bowhunting, very quiet to take out and put in. This style has elastic cord and hooked top that holds the bino's in, rather than being a chest type "bag" you slide them out of. Only thing it lacks compared to the other style is extra little pockets for bits and bobs like ear plugs, extra rounds etc. Noise is probably less of an issue for rifle hunting as its not like the other style have a horn attached, its just when you're in real close and the scraping sound.

I would also add a range finder to the list. Lots of reasonable priced options in them these days. I'm still on my first battery and I've had mine for over 10yrs (wish I needed to range animals more often). Suprisingly used mine a lot around the house for measuring distances for random purposes.
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by Kurnal » 27 Apr 2021, 5:31 pm

Have a very expensive golf rangefinder....wonder how that would work:)
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by in2anity » 27 Apr 2021, 6:00 pm

Kurnal wrote:Have a very expensive golf rangefinder....wonder how that would work:)


Very well... for finding range
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by Blr243 » 27 Apr 2021, 6:08 pm

The rangefinder doesn’t know the difference between a golf ball and a black Panther so it will b fine
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by disco stu » 27 Apr 2021, 6:29 pm

Kurnal wrote:Have a very expensive golf rangefinder....wonder how that would work:)


Nah, won't work-hasn't got camo on it :D
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by on_one_wheel » 27 Apr 2021, 7:11 pm

.223 is a great choice for someone like yourself with previous firearms experience. Its one of my favourite rounds, very versatile, pleasant to shoot and cheap to reload.

Lithgow is a very good choice, a very well built, high quality rifle with unmatched after sales customer service. Best of all, your keeping Australians employed and your hard earned money stays in our own economy.

Barrel length will only make a difference in handling your rig in a vehicle, unless your a dedicated long range target shooter you won't notice the performance difference.

Scope, you definitely get what you pay for.
In my opinion, Leopold do the best scopes when considering value for money and warranty.
Something in the range of 3.5 to10x is what most people seem to recommend for a hunting rifle, personally I like to have a heap more magnification on my centre fire rifles, like 6 to 20x, it helps a heap when you want to reach out

Ammo, the twist rate of your rifle will usually dictate what it will shoot the best, but as you said, with some testing you'll find something that works well, eventually you might start reloading, then you'll find the BEST combination for your rifle.
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by Kurnal » 27 Apr 2021, 7:21 pm

disco stu wrote:
Kurnal wrote:Have a very expensive golf rangefinder....wonder how that would work:)


Nah, won't work-hasn't got camo on it :D

:lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by on_one_wheel » 27 Apr 2021, 7:42 pm

Kurnal wrote:Have a very expensive golf rangefinder....wonder how that would work:)


Range finders are great when you decide to shoot past 300m otherwise between 0 and 300 they are completely unnecessary, with your scope set up to shoot 1.5" high at 100m a .223 will generally shoot + - 2" from 0 to 250m and around 5" low at 300m
Beyond 300 they drop like stones.

If your golf range finder consistently finds ranges from 300 out to 500 or more then it's definitely good enough for shooting.
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by GQshayne » 27 Apr 2021, 7:44 pm

I will add my 2c.

I find some advice given by other people to be totally unsuitable to me when it comes to scopes. So, personal preference and intended use will change things a LOT. Only you can determine this.

I have never used binoculars to hunt with, just no need for me. Maybe you will depending on what you are doing, but there is no way I would reduce my scope budget to allow for binos as well. Get the right scope, and then find the budget for binos later if you want them. The older I get, the more important a good scope becomes.

Have a look through some scopes to see what your money buys you. Then you can decide what you need. In my experience, when the light gets low the higher priced stuff comes into its own.
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by Peter988 » 27 Apr 2021, 7:49 pm

Love my Sauer In 223. It shot MOA out of the box. Shoots half that now with reloads. Couple mates have Tikkas and the are tack drivers too.
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by Pudlux » 27 Apr 2021, 8:18 pm

GQshayne wrote:I will add my 2c.

I find some advice given by other people to be totally unsuitable to me when it comes to scopes. So, personal preference and intended use will change things a LOT. Only you can determine this.

I have never used binoculars to hunt with, just no need for me. Maybe you will depending on what you are doing, but there is no way I would reduce my scope budget to allow for binos as well. Get the right scope, and then find the budget for binos later if you want them. The older I get, the more important a good scope becomes.

Have a look through some scopes to see what your money buys you. Then you can decide what you need. In my experience, when the light gets low the higher priced stuff comes into its own.


Good point here GQ. How and where you intend to hunt will dictate your priorities. For me stalking in Vic High Country, binos are number 1 after light and accurate rifle. Mid range cost scope generally does the job.
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by bladeracer » 27 Apr 2021, 8:45 pm

GQshayne wrote:I will add my 2c.

I find some advice given by other people to be totally unsuitable to me when it comes to scopes. So, personal preference and intended use will change things a LOT. Only you can determine this.

I have never used binoculars to hunt with, just no need for me. Maybe you will depending on what you are doing, but there is no way I would reduce my scope budget to allow for binos as well. Get the right scope, and then find the budget for binos later if you want them. The older I get, the more important a good scope becomes.

Have a look through some scopes to see what your money buys you. Then you can decide what you need. In my experience, when the light gets low the higher priced stuff comes into its own.


Certainly, if your eyesight is good enough that you can spot deer hiding in shadows several hundred meters away, you won't need binoculars. But please don't use a scope mounted on a rifle to glass the scenery. The idea is to identify your target _before_ you point a firearm at it. Less of a problem on private property you are intimate with, but on public land such a decision could be life-changing.

We had a hunter killed a few days ago here in Victoria.
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by Bill » 28 Apr 2021, 8:30 am

Id agree with the sentiment to not use your scope for glassing but were'nt dish lickers involved in the Victorian hunters death ??
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by bladeracer » 28 Apr 2021, 9:16 am

Bill wrote:Id agree with the sentiment to not use your scope for glassing but were'nt dish lickers involved in the Victorian hunters death ??


I have zero details of the incident, and no idea what a dish licker is. The very short article I saw simply mentioned hunters being questioned regarding the fatal shooting of a fellow hunter in the high country. If anybody knows anything further please let us know.
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by Bugman » 28 Apr 2021, 10:22 am

Weatherby Vanguard may also be an option.
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by bah! » 28 Apr 2021, 3:41 pm

Went through this just recently myself and put money down on a franchi momentum strata and have a meopta meopro 6-18-50 to mount on it.
Some small concerns about mounting a tripod but nothing else obvious so far. Paperwork in, now to wait 6-8 weeks
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by bladeracer » 28 Apr 2021, 4:51 pm

bladeracer wrote:
Bill wrote:Id agree with the sentiment to not use your scope for glassing but were'nt dish lickers involved in the Victorian hunters death ??


I have zero details of the incident, and no idea what a dish licker is. The very short article I saw simply mentioned hunters being questioned regarding the fatal shooting of a fellow hunter in the high country. If anybody knows anything further please let us know.


I asked somebody this arvo if they'd seen anything on TV news about this.
They told me it appears to be a guy shooting at a deer, not knowing his mate was behind the deer. No mention of whether an actual deer was shot though, sounds like an idiot shooting at a noise or movement without identifying it as an actual deer.
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by Tubs » 28 Apr 2021, 5:58 pm

Pudlux wrote:
GQshayne wrote:I will add my 2c.

I find some advice given by other people to be totally unsuitable to me when it comes to scopes. So, personal preference and intended use will change things a LOT. Only you can determine this.

I have never used binoculars to hunt with, just no need for me. Maybe you will depending on what you are doing, but there is no way I would reduce my scope budget to allow for binos as well. Get the right scope, and then find the budget for binos later if you want them. The older I get, the more important a good scope becomes.

Have a look through some scopes to see what your money buys you. Then you can decide what you need. In my experience, when the light gets low the higher priced stuff comes into its own.


Good point here GQ. How and where you intend to hunt will dictate your priorities. For me stalking in Vic High Country, binos are number 1 after light and accurate rifle. Mid range cost scope generally does the job.


Do people use bino's with more than 10X magnification? I inherited an old pair of Tasco 10 X 24, which is very light and compact.....
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by bladeracer » 28 Apr 2021, 6:21 pm

Tubs wrote:Do people use bino's with more than 10X magnification? I inherited an old pair of Tasco 10 X 24, which is very light and compact.....


There are occasions when more than 10-power would be nice, but it would make the closer stuff more difficult I think, I use 10x50. You might find 24mm objectives a bit small when glassing in low light.
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by SCJ429 » 28 Apr 2021, 8:19 pm

Most guys will shoot 50 or 55 grain bullets from a 223, the 1:12 twist rate barrel will have the best accuracy potential compared to the 1:8. Guys will get the 1:8 twist rate because they want to shoot 80 grain bullets but never end up doing that. I think you would be better off with a 1:12.

You won't loose a lot of velocity with a 20 inch barrel, buy whatever rifle you want and get your gunsmith to dock the barrel and give it a decent crown. It will shoot better like this.

I went with a Tikka Varmint which I think is a performance bargain. Get a second-hand T3 for around a grand and go hunting.
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by Kurnal » 29 Apr 2021, 9:02 pm

Brief update. Thanks heaps to everyone for replying.

Spent a few hours in the car today and had a bit of an epiphany. I think I am suffering paralysis by analysis. So much info available it was doing my head in.

Who am I kidding. Haven’t shot much for 25 years. As if I am going to know the difference between all these options.

Tikka v Lithgow v Howa v others. Talk about overthink it. Also, who knows how i’ll end up actually using it, range v hunting %.

I’m buying a Lithgow. I like Aussie made and my sons recently joined the army. I like that they make his weapon. I’ll take advice on the scope from the LGS and buy the best my budget allows. Buying it from regional nsw. I’m lucky enough to travel around with work. Happy to support the regional towns.

Then i’ll go shoot it !!

Thanks again everyone.
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Re: Buying a new .223

Post by on_one_wheel » 29 Apr 2021, 9:08 pm

Great to see some national pride. :drinks:

I have a mate who bought one, it's a awesome piece of gear. Which stock did you go for?
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